Packing UP: Study abroad in the southern hemisphere

J-term is about to begin and if you’re lucky (and smart) you’re studying abroad somewhere in the southern hemisphere.  While the rest of us are spending break in frigid conditions, you’ll be basking in the summer sun, hitting the beach, and –er- studying, of course.  Getting ready for this 4-5 week trip isn’t easy, though, and I know the number one question on your mind must be “what do I pack?!”.  Well last J-term I spent 5 weeks in Australia and, if I did it again, I would have honestly packed less.  I know we all say that after every trip when we use about half of what we actually bring, but seriously try to bring less for something like this.

Wilson’s Promontory, Australia – J-term 2014


Utilize pieces from your closet that can be used in multiple outfits.  Of course you will want a pair of jeans and a pair of jean shorts that can go with everything, however, when it comes to your stock of colorful chino shorts: limit yourself!  That pair of bright green chinos with little embroidered fish that you only ever wear with a white tank top is not conducive to a 4-5 week trip.  You want to minimize the amount of times you need to do laundry and maximize the amount of times you can wear something in multiple combinations without repeating an outfit entirely.  It may be time consuming but I like to make a list of every article I’m packing and make a tally mark next to it for every outfit pairing I can come up with for that piece.  When you need to make a decision, the pieces with the least number of tallies are the first to go back into the closet.

So, what should you bring?  Put together a pile of all your basics. This includes jeans, jean shorts, white shorts, a white v-neck, 2-3 solid tanks, 2-3 chinos, and a swim suit or two.  Check the weather before you leave but remember that even in the midst of an Australian heat wave, mornings and nights can get chilly.  Throw in a jacket and pair of leggings too!

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Next, think about what you plan on doing most.  If you’re going to get up each morning and go on a hike, then throw in a few pairs of workout clothes.  If you’re main priority is the beach add a few extra swimsuits.  If you’re taking the tram to the city for shopping, dining, and site seeing, then fun, practical outfits are the way to go.

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What about sundresses?  This is a little tricky because you want to optimize the amount of times you won’t repeat a whole outfit and a sundress, well, is a whole outfit.  However, there is so much you can do to make it last!  Sundresses can change dramatically with a scarf, jacket, and accessories.  The best part?  Sundresses don’t require you to change when transitioning from a day of site seeing to a night out.

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During the day wear the dress with sandals or flats and a scarf and, at night, switch to wedges and a necklace or jacket, depending on the weather.

I know this is always the hardest part, but let’s talk shoes. Keep it minimal! These take up more space in your suitcase and don’t forget you’re going to want to bring more things home!  1 pair of flip flops for the beach, 1-2 pairs of sandals, 1 pair of neutral wedges, 1 pair of sneakers, and 1 pair of your favorite daily shoes like Sperrys.


Remember, it matters more that you go out each day and make the most of your precious time in a beautiful country and less that you wore those shorts 2 days ago… (and 2 days before that!)

Happy Travels!

-Molly Dougherty

P.S. Going abroad but staying in the northern hemisphere?  Come back tomorrow for Packing UP:  Study abroad in the northern hemisphere!

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